Winter Storm Draco ends record snowless streaks across Midwest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5:03 PM GMT on December 19, 2012

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Winter Storm Draco is powering up over the Upper Midwest, and is poised to bring a resounding end to the record-length snowless streaks a number of U.S. cities have notched this year. Blizzard warnings are posted over portions of Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and snowfall amounts of up to a foot are expected in some of the affected regions. While the heavy snow will create dangerous travel conditions, the .5" - 1.5" of melted water equivalent from the the storm will provide welcome moisture for drought-parched areas of the Midwest. Though much of the moisture will stay locked up as snow for the rest of the year, runoff from the storm may help keep Lake Michigan and Huron from setting an all-time record low for the month of December, and may also keep the Mississippi River at St. Louis above the -5' stage though the end of December. If the river falls below -5', barge traffic on the Mississippi may be forced to halt, costing billions of dollars. The Army Corps of Engineers is blasting away rocks on the river bottom south of St. Louis and releasing water from Carlyle Lake in Southern Illinois this week, in order to keep the Mississippi River high enough to allow barge traffic to negotiate the near-record low water levels. Several gauges on the Mississippi have set all-time record lows this year: the New Madrid, Missouri gauge on August 30, 2012 and the Tiptonville, Tennessee gauge on September 2. Records at the Tiptonville gauge go back to at least 1879.


Figure 1. Predicted precipitation totals fopr the 3-day period ending on December 22. Approximately 0.5 - 1.5" of melted water equivalent from Winter Storm Draco is expected over much of the drought-stricken Midwest. Image credit: NOAA/HPC.


Figure 2. Average water levels on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are near their lowest December levels ever recorded, preliminary data from NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory indicate.

Record snowless streaks coming to end because of Winter Storm Draco
The U.S. has had its warmest and 12th driest year on record, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. It should be no surprise, then, that a number of major cities have set records for their longest period without snow. Most of these streaks have come to and end (or will do so in the next day or two) because of Winter Storm Draco:

MIlwaukee, Wisconsin's record streak without measurable snow ended December 18 with 0.5" of snow; the streak was 288 consecutive days, bookended by measurable snowfall on March 5 and Dec. 18. Milwaukee is likely to get an additional 4 - 6" of snow from Draco.

Omaha, Nebraska's record streak without measurable snow ended December 16 with 0.6" of snow; the streak was 295 consecutive days, bookended by measurable snowfall on Feb. 24 and Dec. 16. Omaha is likely to get 6 - 9" of total snow before the current storm winds down. Record latest first snow of the season: December 26, 1888.

Chicago, Illinois' new record snowless streak continues at 289 consecutive days as of Tuesday. The last measurable snow there was March 4. Previous record: 280 consecutive days between the measurable snowfalls of March 1, 1994 and December 5, 1994. Chicago has also broken its record for latest snowfall in the season, previously set on December 16, 1965. These streaks will likely end on Thursday, when 1 - 4" of snow are expected.

Rockford, Illinois' new record snowless streak continues at 289 consecutive days as of Tuesday, but this streak will likely end on Thursday, when 3 - 6" of snow are expected. The last measurable snow in Rockford was March 4. Previous record: 286 consecutive days between the measurable snowfalls of March 3, 1922 and December 13, 1922. Record latest first snow of the season: January 7, 1940.

Lincoln, Nebraska's new record snowless streak continues at 308 consecutive days as of Tuesday. This streak will likely end Wednesday or Thursday, as 6 -8" of snow are expected. The last measurable snow there was Feb. 13. Previous record: 295 consecutive days between the measurable snowfalls of Feb. 6 and Nov. 28, 2004. Record latest first snow of the season: December 31, 2006.

Syracuse, NY is often the snowiest major city in the contiguous U.S. This year, Syracuse has not yet had a 1" snowfall--the second latest such streak. The 3.0" that has fallen is over 28" below what Syracuse usually gets by this time of the season. The latest in the season that the first 1" snow has come to Syracuse occurred on December 22, 1998 (the previous warmest year on record in the U.S.) With the forecast calling for lake effect snows on the 22nd, Syracuse may just miss setting its mark for latest 1" snowfall of the season.

Jeff Masters

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Got a decent amount of snow today. :(

I guess I should give up on seeing a green christmas.
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Thanks Dr Masters

Hope my relatives in Wisconsin have prepared for the coming blizzard
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
It's been a mess in your neck of the woods since before Thanksgiving!! And, I do agree, the PacNW weather doesn't get much attention.

Quoting weatherdogg:
Well - I'll take Midwest weather bias any day over East Coast weather bias. ;) But, it's a skosh ironic to be talking about a snowstorm hitting the Midwest, and completely ignoring a 7.84" bullseye in PacNW over a three day period. I guess it's because that is not that unusual for us this time of year.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
If Central TX can just get through this week without a wildfire I'll consider it a win. Conditions are right for a big one.

We're seeing new burn marks along the roadside every day from cigarettes. We usually only see those in summer.
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Well - I'll take Midwest weather bias any day over East Coast weather bias. ;) But, it's a skosh ironic to be talking about a snowstorm hitting the Midwest, and completely ignoring a 7.84" bullseye in PacNW over a three day period. I guess it's because that is not that unusual for us this time of year.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
Tractor all fueled up and plow went on last night. Bird feeders got filled this morning, so they have a chance to feed before it hits. Not going to be much flying tomorrow, just blowing by. We are ready and waiting! Oh, how I love winter storms!!


Quoting TomballTXPride:





Get ready lilElla. This one is COMING FOR YOU!!!!!






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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
Snow storm on the way for S. WI - NWS has the farm in the 15" snowfall. Add to that, 30-35 MPH N. winds, it's going to be a blizzardy,winter wonderland!

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php ?wfo=mkx&storyid=90352&source=0
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NOLA Sneaux Dec 2008

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I believe this is the last time we saw snow here in East Texas. I always take pictures since it's so rare. Here's our front yard on Dec. 4, 2009. We named this winter storm "Skippy".
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A Storm is a storm weather you name it "Ralph", or a "Big un",....or not at all.





......"Lighten up Francis"

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Special weather statement for:
City of Toronto
Windsor - Essex - Chatham-Kent
Sarnia - Lambton
Elgin
London - Middlesex
Simcoe - Delhi - Norfolk
Dunnville - Caledonia - Haldimand
Oxford - Brant
Niagara
City of Hamilton
Halton - Peel
York - Durham
Huron - Perth
Waterloo - Wellington
Dufferin - Innisfil
Grey - Bruce
Barrie - Orillia - Midland
Belleville - Quinte - Northumberland
Kingston - Prince Edward
Peterborough - Kawartha Lakes
Stirling - Tweed - South Frontenac
Bancroft - Bon Echo Park
Brockville - Leeds and Grenville
City of Ottawa
Gatineau
Prescott and Russell
Cornwall - Morrisburg
Smiths Falls - Lanark - Sharbot Lake
Parry Sound - Muskoka
Haliburton
Renfrew - Pembroke - Barry's Bay
Algonquin
Burk's Falls - Bayfield Inlet.

A winter storm will bring rain and snow to Southern Ontario
Beginning Thursday and continuing into Friday.

------------------------------------------------- --------------------
==discussion==
A weather system tracking toward Southern Ontario will bring a mix of
precipitation types beginning Thursday and continuing into Friday.

South and west of a line roughly from the Muskoka area to Brockville:
precipitation is forecast to begin during the day on Thursday.
Mostly rain is expected, although it may start briefly as a bit of
freezing rain or snow. The rain will also likely change back or
become mixed with snow on Friday, however significant snowfall
accumulations are not expected. The exceptions may be the
traditional snow belt areas to the southeast of Lake Huron and
Georgian Bay, where heavier snow and possibly snow squalls could
develop Friday night.

To the north and east of the Muskoka to Brockville line:
precipitation is forecast to begin Thursday afternoon or evening.
Mostly snow is expected, although some freezing rain or rain is also
possible in southern parts. Total snowfall amounts are uncertain at
this time, but it is possible that some areas will reach or exceed
snowfall warning criteria (15 cm within 12 hours) by the end of the
day Friday. Snowfall warnings may be issued later today or tonight,
as confidence increases.

Windy and colder conditions are forecast for all regions on Saturday.
Please monitor the latest forecasts and warnings from Environment
Canada at www.weatheroffice.gc.ca

END/OSPC

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i just come in from taking a look at it with the welders lens my last chance for a few days as the cloud deck is advancing now


Yeah some days we just don't have the proper words for the beauty that surrounds us..
Just as long as we take time to breathe it in and allow ourselves to be amazed.. :)
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Well now we see one of the side effects of this blog becoming affiliated with the Weather Channel: adopting their silly (and non-NWS-approved) names for winter storms. Ridiculous and pandering.
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Quoting pcola57:
Thanks for the updated blog Dr. Masters.

Our Sun is looking beautiful this am.. :)



i just come in from taking a look at it with the welders lens my last chance for a few days as the cloud deck is advancing now
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54864
There are now 2 days until the 2012 Winter Solstice.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Kind of disappointed I will never see snow again. Or experience a hurricane. Track a tornados supercell. :/


Don't give up yet!
Member Since: September 18, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 616


a re-post from the last blog, just for fun
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Thank you Dr. Masters
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Kind of disappointed I will never see snow again. Or experience a hurricane. Track a tornadic supercell. None of that. :/
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32558
Thanks for the updated blog Dr. Masters.

Our Sun is looking beautiful this am.. :)



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Thank You Doctor Masters.
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Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 144 Comments: 16895
Thanks Dr. Masters.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32558
Thanks Doc ...
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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